This work is part of the 2021 Backyard Bash: Understories at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, KS.
I documented the heights of tallgrass prairie wildflowers and grasses that dominated the landscape here until the late 1870s when Chancellor James Marvin started a campaign to plant trees and transform the University of Kansas campus into a forest landscape more familiar to white settlers.
One of the main reasons that European settlers were so fixated on turning the Midwest into a forest is that they wanted to source the wood from the trees to build houses and other structures.
Growth charts can be something that makes a house a home, and evidence of family relationships rooted in specific place. Through making a growth chart of prairie plants on a wooden house fragment, I aim to call viewer’s attention to how little they have been made to care about what existed in this landscape before us, how they may even view it as alien and foreign, by juxtaposing potentially unfamiliar plant names with a familiar part of many households, built from a material that led in part to the eradication of the prairie.
Vanished Growth, 2021. Paint and pen on wood. 7'x1'x1/2'